June 27, 2011

The Uncanny X-Piles XLVII

Black Panther: The Man Without Fear #519
Writer: Dvid Liss
Artist: Jefte Palo

This issue begins and ends with one of the X-Men’s most powerful and popular, Storm. Ororo has been starring in Astonishing X-Men since Warren Ellis’ run, and she was recently in the X-Men storyline featuring the Lizard, but beyond that, she’s been in the background lately, missing out on the major X-event, Second Coming. Here though, in Black Panther, she’s returning to a prominent role, and I like that it’s with her husband, T’Challa. Since he came to Hell’s Kitchen, the former Black Panther has told Ororo he needs time alone. He wants to fight his battles solo to adequately gauge his new strength level, which was unfortunately acquired when the spirit of the Panther God ceased to be with him. That’s certainly tough to do if one of the world’s most powerful mutants is always at your side, helping take down your foes. So Storm, respectfully, has given T’Challa his space…until now. Why she has decided to show up at this point and time remains to be seen, as this is the first physical encounter between the two since T’Challa left Wakanda. Whenever I think of this couple together, it feels very regal and very right. It only makes sense Storm would fall for a man with brains, given her past encounters, and T’Challa is tough to beat in that category. David Liss has a nice opportunity to build upon their story, and love, as this is a turning point in T’Challa’s career. I want to see this couple work, and work well. Hopefully, Liss doesn’t drop the ball. This new story arc brings about a new artist on the title, and at first the change was jarring. Francavilla’s style was the perfect fit for this series, playing on a similar mood found in his Detective Comics work. However, as the story progresses Francavilla’s run becomes a memory, as Jefte Palo finds his groove and does a great job, especially with his action scenes. He captures movement well, and correctly plays off of Panther’s dark, moody vibes. Storm’s addition to the cast of this book really adds something great, and I advise her fans to check it out. The way things are looking, suddenly the American Panther story spinning out of Fear Itself seems less ridiculous.This title is one of the most under appreciated out there, and it shouldn’t be that way. In my humble opinion, it’s best street level book from Marvel, especially now that Storm is involved. -AL

Iron Age Alpha #1
Writer: Rob Williams
Artist: Rebekah Isaacs

A character from Tony Stark’s past has re-emerged, armed with a time machine and the most destructively powerful force the Marvel Universe has ever known- Dark Phoenix! Holy Hell does the Phoenix Force cut loose here too! This dude from Stark’s olden days means business, and he wastes no time in carrying out his plan. Now Tony finds himself in the past, and we’re in for a period-jumping story that will span throughout the various decades of the Marvel Universe. More X-Men are hinted to join the party along the way, including Dazzler, Cyclops, and Captain Britain. I was interested in this issue because I haven’t read much of Rob Williams’ work, and he’s writing Fear Itself: Uncanny X-Force. So I wanted to see if he was up for the task in filling in the big shoes Rick Remender has crafted with that series. He gives hope with this one-shot that he has the chops to pull it off, even though X-Force is a much darker, grittier book. This was a solid start though to a random “event,” and the more classic X-fans should get on board with it, considering an array of Marvel Era’s will be visited. As long as it doesn’t play like X-Men Forever, I can give it a fair shot. -AL

Ka-Zar #1
Writer: Paul Jenkins
Artist: Pascal Alixe

This issue is an example of blowing a great opening scene; it started out with intensity, surprise, and a little sadness. Then it all got too political, and felt like Star Wars Episode I; it’s trade this and federation that. Nobody wants to read that type of stuff in a Savage Land story. Give me crazy dinosaurs, giant bugs, and spear chucking mutations. Not suits, debates, and word flinging politicians. Unfortunately, we get the latter here. Jenkins’ writing is decent in lieu of the setting, but it’s such a waste of a Savage Land story. For real. Especially when looking at Pascal Alixe’s artwork. He’s a nice fit for a hi-fantasy locale like the Savage Land, but the context of the story really puts a bore on what he could do. Instead of drawing Ka-Zar attacking a T-Rex, he’s drawing Ka-Zar at a council meeting. It’s not the same. This is a 5 issue mini, so things could [hopefully] pick up, but the subsequent issues most likely won’t be reviewed here. Like Skaar: King of the Savage Land, I included this review in the X-Piles because Ka-Zar is loosely affiliated with the X-Men, and it’s the first issue. Maybe if it gets better, or an X-character shows up down the line, we’ll check back in, but otherwise this series is only for die-hard Ka-Zar fans, or people who dig the fantasy art. -AL

Wolverine #10
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Renato Guedes

Just when I was starting to like Daniel Acuna on this book, they bring back Renato Guedes. Guedes did the first arc of this series when Wolverine was in Hell and it was the thing I did not like about that story. I think my main problem is the way he draws Wolverine, which poses an immediate problem because he’s the main character. Under Guedes’ pen, Wolverine is so stiff that he looks like a statue. Also, the perspective is way off. For instance, on page 3, panel 1, Wolverine’s head is tilted in the perspective, but his hair is drawn right on top of his head. If we were to look at him head-on, those little wings on the side of Logan’s head would be on the top! Beyond that, the character of Cannonfoot is utterly ridiculous, and not quite up to par with the stuff Jason Aaron comes up with. But thankfully, Cannonfoot doesn’t make it out of this issue alive, so there’s not much to worry about there. This issue is really about the leader of the Red Right Hand, and we get his origin and why he’s so ready to torture and kill Logan. Aaron does these kinds of character pieces so well. I was reading his story from the last volume of Wolverine #56 a few years ago called The Man In The Pit which was just awesome. Aaron is at his best when he is shaping these characters. I like how he’s pacing this story, too. Wolverine has to take down each of the super-powered assassins in order to make it to the folks behind the Red Right Hand. Aaron pairs this action with the background of these folks who hate Wolverine so much. So from a storytelling perspective, I loved this issue. But I don’t think I can be a fan of Guedes’ art, so this is a real set-back for this title. -JJ

X-Men Legacy #250
Writer: Mike Carey
Artists: Khoi Pham & Steve Kurth

Much like the above review of Wolverine #10, this is an issue with an awesome story, but with weak art. Clay Mann has really proven to be the go-to guy on Legacy. His partners-in-crime Khoi Pham and Steve Kurth take on art duties in this issue. Khoi Pham did that awful Age of X Universe mini and Steve Kurth traded with Mann on the Age of X proper story. Remember the days when a 250th issue came out and the cream of the crop would be drawing it? I guess along with the rebooting that the X-editors are doing, they don’t really see the need to make this issue that big of a deal, with the exception of throwing a random issue of New Mutants in at the end. Despite these setbacks, the story is strong, and Mike Carey is pulling to the front again with a set team of X-Men to focus on and a secure status quo. I fear with Schism coming, this title is going to derail soon, but I think with the two missions in front of this team, Legacy is back to being awesome again. The first mission is to find the six missing personas of Legion who escaped after Age of X. This is a fun course, in my opinion, for the book to take, as it showcases this team’s power set and how they can work together to take each persona down. This issue specifically has the team doing some cool things in tandem with one another to take down Time-Sink. The second mission which I assume will take place after the Legion stuff, will be for the team to go after Marvel Girl, Havok, and Polaris who have been missing in space for a while. In this issue we finally see where the missing X-Men are and how Rogue goes about getting the information for the disincorporating entity of Rachel Summers. However, this short story is done in Memento-style, starting at the end and ending with the beginning. Unfortunately, it was not well done, as I ended up just going back and reading it in order. It took a while for me to understand what was going on, as well, and so I don’t think it had the desired effect. But beyond that, this issue sets us some really cool direction for Legacy, so I’m hoping for the best. -JJ

Most X-Cellent Pick of the Week:
Jeff: While I had problems with art this week, I’m going to say I enjoyed X-Men Legacy #250 the most.
Andy: I’m also going X-Men Legacy. Wolverine was great, but I like how Legacy is dealing with the fallout of Age of X and running with it.

Keep your standard of X-Cellence.

Andy Liegl

Jeff Jackson



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